S&B Offering Skill Cranes And Strategies for An Evolving Market

Posted On: 10/31/2017

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ST. LOUIS, MO -- S&B Candy & Toy Co. is reporting the best summer season in several years.  The success, according to Marty Luepker, has been a perfect and pleasant storm of product and equipment. A good portion of this success, he said, was due in large part to the company's Neon World and Ticket World cranes along with high-demand merchandise, such as ticket roll mixes.

"We rolled out our new line of cranes this summer at Bowl Expo," S&B's Brian Riggles. "And I have to say, Frank Seninsky, Frank the Crank, was a big influence on our ticket roll strategy. And now it's really paying off."

However, as Luepker explained, the ticket rolls are only part of the equation. S&B's new machines represent a significant and distinct design departure from traditional skill cranes. "The machine looks very different from even just a few years ago," he said. "For one thing, we've made them taller, to give them a bigger presence in redemption locations. And, they have improved the lighting, which sets us apart from everybody else."

In short, the line of S&B's machines' packaging has undergone a complete upgrade. This new design has not only proved its player appeal in traditional street locations with a single unit, it also allows the machines to function well in groups. This is due, in large part, to the different color schemes and themes.

As Luepker noted, one yogurt store location features a bank of S&B skill cranes. The space, which is generally used for birthday parties, offers Neon World, Duck World, Prize Express, and Glowing Ball units along with a variety of classic video games. Far from being redundant, each machine is specifically aimed at a different demographic via its prize offering. That is to say, while the Rubber Ducky skill crane is generally seen as a "girl crane," the Glowing Ball unit tends to attract more boys. The overall effect creates a mini arcade environment with the bright lights and flashing colors of the combined skill cranes. An attraction in itself, the cranes attract patrons into the location to play. In short, the bank of skill cranes becomes added value as well as added income for the location.

Another key factor for the yogurt store cranes is that they are set on play-til-you-win, a strategy that is particularly well-suited to the look of the units. "Everyone was dancing around the dollar a play for so long because the machines all looked the same," Luepker said. "What I'm saying is, don't be afraid of the dollar play. Treat the skill crane like a vender to sell product." This play-til-you-win strategy, which migrated from traditional candy cranes, seems to be working when it comes to higher-priced merchandise. As Luepker admits, it does require a lower commission rate to locations. However, it does give them a larger pay out in the end by attracting more players. It also puts more pressure on the operator to find the hottest products. "You have to offer them something they're willing to spend a dollar on," he cautioned.

Luepker sees the busy summer extending into a busy autumn as operators continue to discover and evolve their strategies for FEC and street locations. While S&B, as he noted, is determined to keep up with the current trends.